Mephistopheles Costello

Mephistopheles started coming around the yard during the winter. An emaciated frame filled out with an improbably filthy shaggy coat of fur.

Now he has had his shots and been fixed he has been slowly acclimating to life inside as well as outside.

He patrols the backyard like his own. The squirrels that constantly try to store nuts from our pecan tree inside the house… Let’s just say they have moved away to a new tree. I saw Mephistopheles chasing a squirrel away from a cellar window and the cat’s body language seemed to say, “Oh, you are not coming into MY house!”

The cat’s forays inside his new home are of increasing duration. He seems to like that I let him set the pace.

The only two issues I see possibly coming up in the next few weeks are helping Pooka adjust to another cat and teaching Mephistopheles to play.

Pooka is old and spoiled, but I think she will calm down and learn to enjoy a new partner in crime.

Teaching a feral cat the difference between a playful nip and chomping down on me hard enough to hurt me is going to prove a challenge, but if I could learn the guitar with my teeth I am patient enough to temper Mephistopheles’ bite.

Welcome to the family, Mephistopheles Costello. You are just wild and crazy enough to fit in!


There will not be a meeting on Zoom tomorrow, but regulars of The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society are welcome to take advantage of the chatroom features of our Facebook group:

I am in the curious position of adjusting to my amped-up pain levels with the onset of cold weather while simultaneously gearing up for the most audacious project of my artistic life. So, fret not. I am okay. I am just trying to avoid spreading myself too thinly.

John’s New Washing Machine

My Facebook friend John is moving into a new place. Yesterday he posted a video walkthrough with special attention to his new washing machine. I immediately picked up my banjo and wrote a little tune honoring the happy gurgling and churning of John’s new washing machine.

John, I wish you nothing but happiness in your lovely new home.

That Time of Year

I live with a number of things that cause chronic pain. I have arthritis, migraines and peripheral neuropathy.

In warm weather I can get around fairly well. It is not always easy, but there are summer days when my pain level is just a low buzz.

In cold weather the pain ramps up to operatic levels. While I do have a high pain threshold, there are days in the fall and winter when just getting out of bed for a cup of tea takes every ounce of my grit and determination. Yesterday was like that. Today is better.

I will be slowing down now that the days are shorter and my chronic pain hovers between bad and excruciating. For example, we will be holding off from a Wednesday night session this week.

It will be better this winter than last year. I managed to replace the drafty windows and carpet the bare floors in my bedroom and office, making things downright toasty. With the upstairs winterized, a second cat on the bed (Mephistopheles comes inside for the first time today!), my medical marijuana card and help from friends, I am in pretty good shape for the season. I just have to pace myself to keep from getting overwhelmed.


So, yesterday morning I woke up and discovered that Mephistopheles had clawed a cat door for himself through our front porch screen and disappeared into the misty morning.

He did not come back until early this morning.

He is doing fine. He ate enough breakfast for three cats, had a brief showdown with Pooka, lounged on the back steps with me for a bit, chewed on the knuckle of my left index finger hard enough to make me howl and then sauntered off happily to snooze in the backyard.

He really wants to come inside, but I have to take that slow so Pooka and Daisy can adjust. For the moment, he is happy roaming free.

My finger hurts. That little blighter has the bite force of a Sabre tooth tiger! I need Advil!


I am camped out on the front porch with Mephistopheles. The old-timers who rescue stray cats here in Crisfield did a great job getting him to the vet to get fixed and all of his shots.

It is a cool night, not great for my neuropathy, but I will stay with him until he is calm.

He already dropped a potted geranium on me – like something from a Three Stooges sketch – proving he has what it takes to be a Costello. He was also sweet with mom, showing good taste and common sense.

I love this cat. Even if he decides not to stay, I am so happy that he is going to be okay.

Next Meeting of the Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society October 7th

The Wednesday night Banjo and Donut Marching Society
Time: Oct 7, 2020 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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The Wednesday night Banjo and Donut Marching Society
Time: Oct 7, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Not My Day…

First off, getting files onto a new Kindle Fire is about as painful as giving a great while shark a sponge bath. The shark doesn’t need a sponge bath, the shark doesn’t want a sponge bath, and, in fact, has only gotten into this sponge bath deal for the chance at a free lunch.

I decided to cheer myself up by making fresh pasta. I am not sure what I did, but it cooked up so tough I am saving the bit that I did not throw away to make a pair of boots.

Undeterred, I peeled and cored six apples to make my favorite dessert, apple crisp.

When I was locked up in horticulture in a last ditch effort by my high school to find someplace, anyplace, to inter me, I used to steal flowers from the greenhouse to bribe the lunch ladies for vast trays of apple crisp. I love the stuff. I will fight you for apple crisp.

I peeled my first apple leaving the entire peel as one long strand. Mom said to throw it over my shoulder. The peel will fall in the shape of the first letter of the name of the next person I will marry.

I threw the peel over my shoulder. I turned around.

“What letter is it?” Mom asked.

“It’s not a letter. It’s handcuffs.”

“Oh, don’t be silly… Oh. That does look like handcuffs.”

So, enough of that. I peeled two more apples without breaking the peel, but I not try that fun bit of folklore again.

Anyway, there I was. Making apple crisp and just happy as a pig in poop. As a finishing touch, I dusted the confection with cinnamon.

Wait a second… Why am I smelling Taco Bell?

I look at the jar and read: CUMIN.

Oh. My. God.

There are many spices that you can add to apple crisp. Cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of cloves and even allspice if you are feeling daring. Notice that cumin is not on this list? Why? Because the taste and smell is akin to having a toddler eat apple pie followed by a big bowl of really questionable chili and then immediately throwing up in your car. This is the worst thing I have ever had in my mouth, and keep in mind that I once swam my way out of a sewage-filled trench in East Machias, Maine.

Cumin and apple crisp is so awful I would not serve to somebody I hated. It is horrible. This is not an exaggeration. I tasted the crumb batter. Half an hour later, and I am still tasting it. Yeech. Cumin and apple crisp. I have become death, the destroyer of worlds.

If being late with the lamb sauce gets you screamed at by that great doughy hair-plugged British fancy lad Gordon Ramsay, I am sure adding cumin to apple crisp would make the man violent enough to kick me in the groin.

Hell, after tasting that, I wanted to kick myself in the groin!

So, this has not been my day. I am going to go drown my sorrows with hot tea and watch some horror movies.

Tomorrow, I’ll go buy more apples!

A Dream Within A Dream

Another poem from the great Edgar Allan Poe to celebrate the month of October.

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow—
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand—
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep—while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?